Vancouver, fire commanders OK contract

Four-year pact retroactive to 2010; raises for 2012, ’13

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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The city of Vancouver and its six-member fire command union settled a four-year contract Monday night.

The new contract is retroactive to 2010, when the prior contract expired. The Fire Command Officers, Local 4378 represents the Vancouver Fire Department’s captains and battalion chiefs.

The new contract includes no raises in 2010 or 2011, a 3.7 percent raise this year, and a 2 percent raise in 2013, Vancouver Deputy Human Resources Director Antoinette Gasbarre said. Those salary increases will cost the city a total of $62,729 in the next two years.

In 2010, the average salary of a fire command union member was $137,814, including overtime and other factors.

The fire commanders will also join the health care pool started by the larger Vancouver Fire Suppression unit, a move that caps Vancouver’s contribution to health care costs at a 5 percent increase a year.

Effective April 1, the city will contribute $1,379.47 toward the health care premiums of fire commanders. Any cost over that must be covered by the union members.

The city’s health care costs, much like those in the private sector, have grown in the double digits -- so contributing to a separate pool allows officials to plan for set increases, rather than exponential growth, City Manager Eric Holmes has said.

Police contract

Vancouver is also set to go to state arbitration with its Police Guild.

The police union, which represents about 177 rank-and-file officers, have been unable to come to an agreement with city leaders over their contract.

No date for mediation has been set, Gasbarre said.

She declined to comment on the negotiations, except to say arbitration “is the next step in the process, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.